The disappearance of flight MH370 of the Malaysian Airlines has made a lot of headlines lately. As expected, scammers are also trying to profit from the mystery story.
The airplane in question disappeared on Saturday somewhere above the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Vietnam. The flight was heading to Beijing and had 239 people on board. 12 nations are involved in the search, but so far the plane is nowhere to be found.
Since many people are wondering where the plane might have ended up and if the passengers are still alive, scammers came up with the “answer.” The plain is in the famous Bermuda Triangle and all passengers are alive.
“Video of Malaysia MH370 Plane found in Bermuda Triangle! Passengers alive! Breaking news video footage of this miracle just released on CNN!” the scam posts spotted by Hoax Slayer read.
Of course, this isn’t true. The links from the post don’t point to a video of the MH370 plane, but to a website that appears to host several shocking videos.
The site in question, insidevideo.net, appears to be offline at the time of writing. However, Google caches reveal that the “viral videos portal” is actually designed to trick users into sharing the scam posts with their Facebook friends.
Then, victims are instructed to complete various online surveys that are presumably part of a “security check.”
Once these surveys are completed, users are usually asked to enter their phone numbers. By doing so, unsuspecting victims are actually singing up for premium mobile services that can inflate their phone bills with tens of dollars.
A recent Bitdefender study shows that scammers increasingly abuse Facebook to lure users to their websites. In many cases, they rely not only on posts advertising shocking videos of various promotions, but also on sponsored ads.
Close to half of rogue ads have been found to point to shady pharmacy sites, shops offering replicas, casinos and dating services. However, they can also point to malware and scams.
“The fact that the ads are encapsulated inside a trustworthy environment gives them a trust boost and definitely lures in more users than your average spam message,” Bitdefender Online Threats Researcher Andrei Serbanoiu explained.
“But there are even greater advantages for the converted spam advertiser: Facebook has a very comprehensive list of targeting options, which allows scammers to maximize their success,” Serbanoiu added.
All sorts of threats lurk on Facebook and because many users disregard the risks, cybercriminals and scammers will continue to successfully leverage the platform for their operations.